Tuesday, March 27, 2007

dvd reviews: Big Audio Dynamite, Einstuerzende Neubauten

Big Audio Dynamite - Live E=MC2

After Mick Jones left the Clash, he hooked up with London film maker/DJ Don Letts to form Big Audio Dynamite, boldly combining rock, hip-hop, movie audio samples, reggae, and beatbox beats to create what he'd hoped to be a kind of universal groove sound. Moderately successful, BAD's songs nearly garnered as much radio airplay than those of The Clash, but a revolving door of band membership and the changing face of what was known as "alternative rock" forced Jones to more or less collapse the band's projects in the late '90's.

This fifty minute DVD, featuring a 1990 show at London's Town & Country Club, is a pretty decent overview of what BAD's sound was all about. Starting with the spaghetti western-meets-dancehall "Medicine Show", through the rock-rave of "The Globe" and "Rush", and culminating in a probably-ironic but respectful cover of Prince's "1999", Live E=MC2 is a great reminder of how much fun this band's melange of genres really was, and a must for Clash and Mick Jones completists.

Here's "Rush", from the DVD:

Einstuerzende Neubauten - Palast Der Republik

Einstuerzende Neubauten is one of those bands that critics love to use as a reference point, especially when talking about industrial music, but aside from possibly having seen interviews with EN's enigmatic leader Blixa Bargeld, most of those same critics have never viewed a proper performance by this crew of noise pioneers.

This DVD documents a full performance filmed at the Palast der Republic in (the former East) Berlin in 2004, which was torn down shortly afterward. The concert showcases The Neubauten's knack for creating beautifully chaotic soundpieces from instruments both traditional and unconventional. Metal pipes are clanked, PVS tubing is bonked, drum kits made of what looks like tip-roofing pieces are banged, and in one of the concerts quieter moments, moving styrofoam packing peanuts are delicately amplified to create a haunting and remarkably organic sounding background for a balladish piece. Even the railings of the building itself are used as percussive instruments.

Bargeld conducts the band, croons eerily throughout, and at one point early in the concert dramatically chases all the photographers out of the photo pit without saying a word.

This set is an excellent document of an important link in the evolution of modern music.

Blixa gives a little history of the Palast here:

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